Turning a three-peat in a listed stakes is a fine accomplishment in its own right. When you manage that feat as a Group-1 winning equine senior citizen at the ultra-competitive Dubai World Cup Carnival, it’s historic. And when you come back the next season as a 12-year-old to defend your title again, it’s somewhere between amazing and unbelievable.
That’s the status Reynaldothewizard has reached as he bids for a fourth consecutive victory in Thursday’s $175,000 Dubawi S., now upgraded to a Group 3. The about six-furlong dash on the Meydan dirt is a stepping stone to the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), which Reynaldothewizard captured all the way back on World Cup night 2013. Even then he was an old-stager at the age of seven.
Carefully managed by trainer Satish Seemar, “Reynaldo” races sparingly, and only during the Carnival. His longevity is all the more remarkable because he’s still competing at a high level. Fourth in the 2014 and 2016 runnings of the Golden Shaheen, he was last seen finishing eighth behind Mind Your Biscuits in the March 25 renewal.
Indeed, Reynaldothewizard has been classy from the beginning. Initially with Eoin Harty stateside, he won impressively in his debut as a juvenile at Churchill Downs in 2008. The son of Speightstown was next third to Run Away and Hide in the Saratoga Special (G2) and 10th to Square Eddie in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), the only two-turn attempt of his career. The third-place finisher in that Breeders’ Futurity was none other than Pioneerof the Nile, now famous as the sire of Triple Crown champion American Pharoah.
The following spring, Reynaldo finished third in a Churchill allowance to two other future sires, Warrior’s Reward and Munnings, on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) undercard. The Oaks winner that year? Rachel Alexandra.
By the time Reynaldo was sidelined in the summer of 2009, his older half-sister, Seventh Street, was developing into a Grade 1 performer with wins in the Apple Blossom (G1) and Go for Wand (G1). One month after his younger half-sister, American Story, placed in the 2010 Remington Park Oaks, Reynaldo scored in his Dubai premiere for Seemar. American Story, subsequently Grade 2-placed, would go on to produce 2017 Test (G1) heroine American Gal and Damascus hero Americanize.
Reynaldothewizard actually competed once against another nephew, Marking, Seventh Street’s son by Bernardini. The two lined up in the 2016 Al Shindhagha Sprint (G3) at Meydan, where Marking dumped the rider out of the gate and Reynaldo finished third as the defending champion.
The walk down memory lane illustrates just how long Reynaldo has been around, and the Zabeel Racing International colorbearer is coming to the end of his career path. As if beating time weren’t hard enough, his likely rivals in the Dubawi – as of Monday’s early entry stage –make his chances of a four-timer that much more difficult.
Ali Rashid al Rayhi’s veteran Muarrab, now nine years old himself and the 2016 Golden Shaheen romper, warmed up with a six-length rout of Comicas, My Catch, and Yalta in the December 21 Garhoud Sprint over course and distance. Muarrab has yet to beat Reynaldo in the Dubawi, though, having finished second to him twice in his “pet race” (in 2015 and 2017).
Godolphin’s Comicas, the runner-up in last year’s Golden Shaheen, is entitled to move forward off his Garhoud Sprint comeback. The Charlie Appleby trainee had raced just twice on the British turf since World Cup night, placing third in the Duke of York (G2) and well back in 13th in the Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot. Outpaced at one point in the Garhoud, Comicas kept grinding to nip My Catch for second on the line.
My Catch, from the in-form yard of Doug Watson, also has reason to improve. A dominating winner of the 2016 Garhoud over Muarrab, the speedster missed the 2017 Carnival and was up against it trying the Golden Shaheen off the layoff. My Catch faded to 10th on World Cup night and didn’t resurface until his title defense in December.
Reynaldothewizard’s stablemate, Raven’s Corner, was all set to return in the Garhoud, only to become a vet scratch after acting up in the gate. Now the well-regarded son of Raven’s Pass, who won two in a row on the Meydan dirt last season, may get his class hike here.
Although the Dubawi is the only stakes on Thursday’s card, a few other races are worthy of attention.
Watson’s devastating debut winner, Rayya, is engaged in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial over the same about seven-furlong trip. Godolphin has three candidates. While Appleby’s Newbury stakes-placed Expressiy is officially the highest rated in the possible field, his colleague Saeed bin Suroor arguably has a better long-term prospect in Winter Lightning. A half-sister to Thunder Snow and a full sister to Ihtimal, the ill-fated winner of the 2014 UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks (G3), Winter Lightning was second in her Newmarket unveiling to noted British classic hopeful Veracious. Bin Suroor also engaged Caring Touch, victorious at first asking over Newcastle’s Tapeta in December.
The metric mile handicap on dirt could mark the Dubai debut of Watson’s new recruit Kimbear. Useful on the Southern California circuit for Eric Kruljac, he was runner-up to American Anthem in last May’s Laz Barrera (G3). Watson’s other nominees are Group 2-placed Layl, a drifting-out third behind stablemates Cosmo Charlie and Faulkner here in November, and progressive Thegreatcollection, who handed his trainer his 500th UAE victory two starts back. Well-traveled Wild Dude, second to Heavy Metal in the Dubai Creek Mile, could cut back in trip after failing to handle about 1 3/16 miles on opening night of the Carnival.
The turf handicap over a metric mile is well subscribed, with bin Suroor’s Dream Castle (runner-up to Barney Roy in the Greenham [G3]) topping a list including Mike de Kock’s fresh South African imports Icy Trail and Bold Rex and British shippers Khafoo Shememi (for Richard Hannon) and Another Touch (Richard Fahey).
Sheikh Hamdan has the leading pair in the about six-furlong turf sprint, multiple Australian Group 2 victor (and Oakleigh Plate [G1] second) Faatinah invading for David Hayes, and de Kock’s multiple Group 2-winning miler Janoobi, presumably needing this one after his roundabout trek from South Africa. Appleby’s Baccarat and Final Venture from the Paul Midgley yard are familiar Carnival faces, while David O’Meara’s Wokingham winner, Out Do, is set for his premiere.
Bin Suroor’s Team Talk, not seen since landing the Churchill S. over Lingfield’s Polytrack in November 2016, is entered in the about 1 1/4-mile turf handicap along with stablemate Leshlaa, winner of the Anatolia Trophy. De Kock’s Light the Lights and Sanshaawes might wheel back after their unplaced runs behind Benbatl in last week’s Singspiel (G3). The improving Another Touch has this as an option along with the aforementioned metric mile.
Final declarations are to come Tuesday.